A need for efficient flaring
Many will be familiar with the iconic image of a flame atop an oil rig. During oil production, associated gas is produced from the reservoir alongside the oil and brought to the surface, historically flared off as a waste product.
Since 1977, Aramco has been capturing and processing this associated gas as part of its Master Gas System, to be utilized for domestic power generation and other industries. As a result, the Company has already achieved near zero flaring status, with one of the lowest intensities in the industry. But some routine flaring remains necessary for safety, acting as a “pressure-valve” for the flammable gas that builds up during the process, and so flare stacks must be made as efficient and as clean as possible.
As part of Aramco’s ongoing commitment to energy efficiency, the Company had already introduced smokeless technology at new installations, with further plans to upgrade existing operational flares. A comprehensive evaluation was conducted on all the smokeless flare technologies available at that time, including steam-pressured or sonic flare tips, to ascertain feasibility and efficiency in retrofitting. However, these were either not cost-effective, too complex, or unsuitable for retrofitting or for facilities where, for example, steam was unavailable.
With hundreds of flare systems in operation, it was clear to Aramco that a better solution was needed.